automatic robot mower for airports: revisit: case feedback

 Automatic mower for an airport: case study

Whatever the risk and security management, airports will always have their specific needs and regulations, over and above protection of the local flora and fauna and maintenance of green spaces. Management and reduction of CO2 emissions is also gaining critical importance in a world in which air travel can hardly be accused of enjoying the best of reputations.

All of the above points are, of course, critical, but they cannot camouflage the importance of cost management. All these realities taken together argue the case in favour of the use of automatic mowers, since they allow positive action on each one of these points.

Certain airports, such as Sola in Norway, are currently using as many as 26 Belrobotics robots 24/7. However, so far there are no precise or objective studies available. In early August 2021 Purdue University published a study on the impact of automatic robot mowers on the sustainable aspect of an airport. This university has an airport (KLAF) that was the scene of a study conducted with the aid of an Echorobotics robots. Here are just some of its analyses:

 

 Risk management

Risk management is obviously of critical importance for airports. Automation does allow the removal of some of the risks for the staff (mowing in critical zones) but, on the other hand, it must of course be checked so as to be sure that it does not in itself constitute a risk

In the case of a robot mower, Purdue University Airport opted for certain specific zones so as to guarantee maximum safety, but was satisfied with the safety procedures in connection with the mower:

  • The peripheral cable that prevents the mower from escaping the predefined zone. The power supply to the mower is cut outside the zone.
  • The internal software preventing the mower from being activated outside its zone (and therefore reduced interest in stealing the robot mower).
  • The mower’s proximity-sensors prevent the risk of collision with an object or with a person.
  • The application allows remote tracking of the status of the mower and the sending of a certain number of commands.

To guarantee near-zero risk they also have an integrated cross-rail physical barrier system.

One of the teething problems seemed to be the number of alerts during the first tests. Even so, with 23 alerts over 562 hours of mowing in the first test, the robot mower booked only 2 alerts over 1 115 hours of mowing in the final test after modifications to the grounds and the software. This shows the importance of correct installation and a certain number of tests.

Bigmow on Stavanger Airport Norway

 Reduced costs

One of the main advantages of this study seems to be the reduction of necessary staff and the resulting reduction of associated costs. It is, of course, clear that personnel will always be necessary to carry out the inspection and maintenance of the grounds, robots and charging station, but these points are minor compared with the time required for a “good, old-fashioned” mow. The university even made arrangement for comparative tests to be conducted, measured against a conventional mow.

One of the notes made concerned the random mow and the possible benefits of a mow with a GPR RTK model. This option is already being developed and is now available, much further increasing the efficiency of the robot, since it can now cut in straight lines. This development is certainly much more important for an airport. It should be remembered that security considerations make the use of a robot difficult in certain critical zones. But, as the study explains, it is possible to shut down certain zones during slack periods, often at night. With an RTK model you can work up to 3 times more surface than with a conventional model. So you can cover a much bigger surface during these quiet times!

Reduction of CO2 emissions

Fuel requirements, mostly in conventional mowing methods, can hardly be overstated. In the U.S.A. they represent more than 300 million litres of fuel and 5% of atmospheric pollution. Opting for a 100% electric alternative would allow reduction of these emissions of CO2 and the carbon footprint of an airport. As the study indicates, this would also be a visible sign of these efforts.

So, robot mowers are very interesting little helpers for the most complex and secured areas, airports, industrial zones, etc. If you would like more information on their possibilities, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

GPS robot mower | RTK technology – Belrobotics

GPS technology for robot mowers

Belrobotics is constantly on the outlook for new possibilities for its professional automatic mowers. That is why our engineers have developed a new accessory with a GPS RTK steering system that allows mowing with unequalled precision: accurate to the nearest centimetre!

What is RTK technology?

Abbreviation of Real Time Kinematic, this technology functions by picking up waves carrying certain signals:

  • GPS (the Global Positioning System from the USA)
  • GLONASS (the Global Navigation Satellite System from the Soviet Union)
  • and Galileo (the Global Navigation Satellite System from the European Union)

Those signals are then corrected in real time by a reference station, which results in mowing with centimetre accuracy!

 RTK technology for robot mowers: feedback

Many clients make already use of this new GPS mowing technology and are extremely positive about it. This is also the case for the Belgian Football Centre in Tubize which unites several football grounds used to train the Red Devils as well as young teams. Unsurprisingly, the grass must be cut perfectly for a game at professional level. This means intense work for the groundsmen who must guarantee that the pitches are always usable and who must therefore manage the mowing plannings very well. In an earlier interview they had already shared their experiences with our robot mowers for football grounds and their advantages. We seized this opportunity to also talk about their views on this new technology.

In order to not stop at a single opinion we also gave the floor to Gaetan Gervy who works at Keymolen, a company that sells farming machinery and equipment in Rebecq. They have a ground of 9 000 m² and are therefore extremely interested in our large surface mowers.

 GPS robot mowers for an accelerated cut

Frédéric Veraghaenne, Director of Operations of the Belgian Football Centre in Tubize, explains among other things that one of the advantages of this RTK system is to accelerate the cutting of the grounds by avoiding several passes in the same place during the same mow. For a centre whose grounds have a high rate of occupation, time management can be complicated and saving time is definitely an advantage.

For the company Keymolen this advantage is even more obvious. A standard robot mower without RKT technology would need as much as 5 days to mow their grounds. By installing this technology on a Bigmow this time can be reduced to three 2-hour passes. This pass must be split to allow the mower to recharge, but the timesaving is impressive.

This advantage concerns not only the mowing time but also the mowing potential of models. In fact, a smaller mower can now cut a larger surface, since it loses less time. The wear of parts such as the wheels or bearings is also reduced given that the mower only cuts very specific zones.

 GPS robot mowers for nicely cut grass

With their even more developed guidance system the mowers can now also mow the grounds with straight lines. The user can currently choose between 8 different configurations. Furthermore, with such a configuration, the robot no longer turns away if it comes up to a zone of higher grass as this does not form an obstacle anymore. Another advantage for the professional sports grounds that must always be in perfect shape!

 GPS robot mowers for a simpler cut of different grounds

The guidance system also allows a simpler cut of different grounds. In fact, the maintenance crews no longer have to move the mower and the application allows to follow by remote and prepare the line of the next ground. As we have already mentioned these lines are optimisable and modifiable. For the Belgian Football Centre, which has several grounds, this management is now greatly simplified.

A GPS installable on your Connected Line model

Finally, the GPS RTK technology can be installed on all our models of the Connected Line range. An antenna is added to the robot mower and to the ground that needs to be mowed. An additional module is connected to the computer. Thanks to these elements the exact position of the mower can be determined and it can mow more easily in straight lines.

The system currently functions using a Wi-Fi signal that can cover a working radius of up to 250-300 metres. It is also possible to use amplifiers to enlarge this zone. Our engineers are working on a new step: using 4G to make our clients’ lives even easier!

If you are interested in this technology and want to estimate the timesaving or financial benefit it would bring, do not hesitate to contact us for a free quote!